One in three CVs contain mistakes, and here’s why

Here at Adzuna, we love stats and data. We also know the ins-and-outs of CVs and job applications. So after debating the humble CV and all the possible downfalls, it can come across here’s what we have to say:

After analysing more than 4,500 SA CVs, we noticed that roughly one-third of all CVs in South Africa contain one or more common spelling mistake.

While roughly 56% of the CVs featured one misspelt word, 44% of them had two or more spelling errors. What was the highest amount of spelling errors on an SA CV? A whopping 24 mistakes! Among the culprits were the words ‘responsibility’ and ‘speciality’. The words ‘liaise’, ‘communication’ and ‘management’ also made the top ten list of misspelt words.

Our internal study, conducted in November 2018, involved 4,500 CVs across South Africa to highlight the most common mistakes made in job applications. We used semantic text-mining tech to get the scoop on work history, experience, personal details, and of course skills. We were also able to determine trends in provincial applications and the most common skills “promoted” by candidates from each region.

Spelling errors aren’t the only issues

Common American spelling of words like “behavior” and “center” are responsible for a massive amount of misspellings, which we suspect might be because most of us have our spell-checker tools set to American English by default.  It is also interesting to note that men are more prone to mess up with spelling than women are. While 8% of female job seekers submit flawless CVs, only 6% of men have perfected the art of submitting error-free and grammatically correct resumes.

It was pretty evident to see that spelling mistakes were some of the most common errors in job applications, but in more than 30% of all CVs, there were gaps in employment history, which is a big problem for HR managers. Among the other common issues, we noticed that many CVs also lack personal summaries, don’t contain valid addresses and contact details, and in general, are not concise enough.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. South Africans seem to be pretty clued up on the idea of providing the right email addresses and attaching files to their CVs with appropriate file names. This is a telltale sign that our nation isn’t lagging behind in the area of digital development. Just 140 of the CVs analysed featured inappropriate file names, which was the lowest level of any type of error.

The most common CV errors in South Africa

Ranking Common CV Mistake
1 Misspelt words
2 Gaps in employment history
3 Lack of personal summary
4 Missing or invalid postal address
5 CV length too long or short
6 Invalid cellpone number or omitted details
7 Invalid or omitted email address
8 Inappropriate file name
9 Missing spaces in CV text
10 Use of American spellings


Ranking Common Misspelt Words in SA CVs
1 Responsibility
2 Liaise
3 University
4 Experience
5 Speciality
6 Communication
7 Achievement
8 Management
9 Environment
10 Successful

Here’s what Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna had to say about the issue at hand: “A good CV should succinctly show off employment history, education and key skills, but it should also be flaw free. Employers may be put-off by amateur CV errors like adding in rogue apostrophes, using Americanisms or forgetting to put the ‘I’ before the ‘e’. And when spellcheck and CV screening tools are easily accessible, there really is no excuse for error-riddled documents.”

“Our advice to job seekers is to triple check spelling and grammar if you want to proceed to the interview stage, and use CV screening tools to highlight any silly errors that could be holding you back.”

Perhaps these simple mistakes seem insignificant, but they can mean the difference between your CV being shortlisted or chucked into the recalling bin. Heads up: before you submit your CV for that job of your dreams, check and double check for any typos!


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